Posted tagged ‘writing’

Curses

April 22, 2014

TSTThis is a story my Mom told me when I was in high school.  We were always a one car family, so when she needed the car, she’d drive Dad to work then pick him up at quitting time.  She’d sometimes find herself talking to my Dad’s co-workers while he finished up a job.  One day, she happened to mention how pleased she was that he never swore at home.   Their response?  Frank?  Never swear?  You’ve got to be kidding.  I had never heard Dad use anything stronger than hell or damn … or, under dire circumstances, a Jesus H. Christ, which always elicited THAT Look from Mom.  But as was the case with many men back then … he had a different vocabulary among other men than in public.  There were, of course, men who used those words no matter who was around.  Mom knew where they all lived and strongly suggested I avoid those places.  I still managed to pick up a few choice curse words, though … and followed in the hallowed tradition of using them with the guys but never in front of the girls.  And never at home.  I had friends who had their mouths washed out with soap or pepper sauce on the tongue for swearing.  Dad was more direct … a quick backhand got the point across. (more…)

Monday Smiles – 3/17/2014

March 17, 2014

Mondays have a terrible reputation … just Google hate Mondays then click on images and you’ll see.  But chances are, you already know that from personal experience.

hatemondays

And Monday mornings, as the nexus between the freedom of the weekend and the responsibilities of the workplace, are even more hated.  According to the U.K.’s Daily Mail, More than half of us will spend the day complaining, particularly in the morning and One in three people said they hated Monday more than any other day of the week.  Some of the most common reasons include dreading the working week ahead, over-indulging over the weekend or having a mountain of emails to catch up with.  I’ve been lucky, I suppose. (more…)

And the Pulitzer Goes to …

March 5, 2014

aiI found an interesting article on the Fox News app on my tablet the other day.  Now, before anyone launches into a political bias tirade I also peruse headlines on US News and World Report, Real Clear Politics, The New Republic, and The Huffington Post.  No, not MSNBC.  Every libertarian has his limits.  Anyway, the article reported that 122 articles in technical journals, many in publications of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), were recently found to be computer generated gibberish like, This section provides a complete description of the canceller output spectrum in terms of Discrete Prolate Spheroidal Sequences and their eigenvalues.  Just kidding, of course.   That is a sentence from my doctoral dissertation.  Try this: Application and Research of Smalltalk Harnessing Based on Game-Theoretic Symmetries.  Therein lies part the problem … many scientific papers may sound like gibberish to laymen and even to those in a slightly different scientific field.  That’s why technical papers are supposed to be peer reviewed by people working in the same field.
(more…)

Body Language

February 27, 2014

body languageOne of the side effects of aging, at least in my family, is an assortment of dermatological decorations … moles, skin tags, age spots and the like.  My Dad had them and now, so do I.   As a health conscious senior, I keep an eye on these uninvited passengers, since they can sometimes evolve into a skin cancer.   I also have my doctor give me the once over every time I see him.  So far I’ve been lucky but I have had few skin tags removed because they are in places that snag on clothing.  A while back, I noticed a rather large raised patch of rough skin on my right forearm.  Anything new worries me.  I’m going to have Dr. G look at this, I told my wife, Muri.   A while later, I was working on a technical problem at my desk and noticed that I was biting on that exact spot on my arm.  My dermatological decoration was my Thinking Spot, where I unconsciously bite my arm when I’m thinking.  Sitting here a moment ago, trying to come up with a next sentence, I noticed I was chewing the ends of my mustache … and the rough spot on my arm is gone.  I guess I’ve moved my Thinking Spot.   As we were leaving the house for Arizona two weeks ago, Muri suddenly snapped her fingers.  What did you forget? I said.  Me?  When I forget something, I slap my right thigh with my right hand (at my age, I could hurt myself trying to slap my left thigh with my right hand).  I asked my daughter what she does when she forgets something.  I just say “Shit,” she said.  I sometimes combine an expletive with a leg slap if I forget something important, the vulgarity of the expletive directly proportional to the importance of the forgotten item.  I can always tell when Muri is thinking because she bites the inside of her lip or cheek.  We must be oral thinkers. (more…)

Friday Favorites 1/31/2014

January 31, 2014

pen homeIt started with a $7.99 Parker Vector fountain pen.  After years of super-fine point Pentel mechanical pencils for technical work and a variety of ball points and gel-pens for serious writing, I joined the inky fingers set.  To me, nothing feels quite like writing with a fountain pen, so I’m willing to put up with their disadvantages, including:

  • Leaking in pockets, particularly at high altitude on airplanes
  • Getting ink all over your finger when filling them or even just writing
  • Inadvertently smudging still-wet ink with your hand on important documents
  • Running out of ink with no supply nearby
  • Dealing with bottled ink, a spill waiting-to-happen for me
  • The trauma of losing a pen to which you have an unnatural attachment (more…)

Starting a WordPress Blog – 3

January 11, 2014

wordpress-logo-stacked-bgThis is part 3 of my guide to starting a WordPress blog.  In Starting a WordPress Blog – 1, I discussed some blogging basics and definitions and in Starting a WordPress Blog – 2, I showed how to register on WordPress for a blog and choose a theme.  Now, it’s time to use that theme to make your blog look just as you’d imagined it … ready for your first post.  As we get closer to lift-off, there will be more choices to make … and many choices are particular to the theme you’ve chosen … so I won’t cover all of them, just the main ones that most influence the look of your blog.  As I’ve said before, at the end of the day, the only way to get the blog you want is to experiment … which is adult-talk for play.   To begin, go to your Dashboard, which you can do by going to wordpress.com, logging in then choosing Dashboard under your Blog Name.  Just like last time, we’re going to look under the Appearance tab in the left sidebar and select the Customization tab.  Your blog appears as it looks (naked) with a pop-out menu along the right side.  Under the Front tab, you get to choose your home page format, what people see when they enter your blog address, either a static page that never changes (but links to your posts) or the standard (more…)

Friday Favorites 1/10/2104

January 10, 2014

writing penSome years ago when, inspired by The Artist’s Way to be a writer rather than an engineer, I signed up for the creative writing program a Cal State University Fullerton.  And fortunately I didn’t quit my day job.  Because once the glow of The Artist’s Way wore off … and I spent some time getting to know myself better via the 12 Steps … I realized that I liked being an engineer … and had been  a writer as part of that career for years.  I realized that I could be an engineer and a writer.  It would take quite a few more years for me to accept that engineering would be my vocation while writing would be my avocation.  In my I’M A WRITER phase, I wrote a number of short stories and a novel.  I started at least two other novels.  In my mind’s eye, I pictured myself writing somewhat mystical romantic fiction in lovely descriptive prose with quirky but lovable characters that lived on the edge of magic.  I pictured myself writing like Alice Hoffman.  Didn’t happen.  I used to say, I thought I’d write like Alice Hoffman but I ended up writing like Elmore Leonard.  If only.  The point is my writing always had a comical edge and often a dark side.  I’m not sure if the novel was salvageable … I tried pitching it to several publishers without success.  What I gradually realized is that I didn’t have what it takes to grind a novel to publication … or agonize through writing another.  Yes, I know about self-publishing.  My ego dismisses it but I that’s just an excuse for not doing the work.  And with Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog, I think I’ve realized that I most enjoy writing the kind of semi-fiction (yes, I do occasionally hyperbolize … or outright invent … details) that I write here. (more…)

On Loving Words

December 26, 2013

I have hated the words and loved them and I hope I have made them right – The Book Thief

wordsIf you are one of the handful of readers who stop by here now and again, you know that Older Eyes is a lover of words.  Perhaps handful of readers sounds like a lament or even a complaint … and anyone who’s ever put words to a page would call me a liar if I denied a wish for more readers … but I bring it up today as evidence.  A man doesn’t write nearly a million words in four years for a small audience unless he truly loves the way it feels as the words flow from imagination to fingertips to page.  Lately, however, although the words still flow, they require more effort and bring less joy.  They feel emptier, even though, to this reader, they still read well.

(more…)

Writing What I Think

November 27, 2013

writing penThere was a time not too long ago that Wednesday was my day for writing about writing … Writing Wednesday, so to speak … but more frequently lately, it’s been a day off.  Perhaps my writing has been sufficiently uninspired that it would seem presumptuous to offer my reasons for writing.  Or maybe the theme has just run thin.  Whatever the reason, I haven’t had much to say about writing these days.  But yesterday, my Facebook and blogging friend, Morris, asked for my my take on the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.  If you’ve been coming around Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog for a while, you know, I try to keep this a politics-free zone, so I won’t offer my answer here.  I will, however, tell you it was more moderate than I’d have expected.   When Morris thanked me for my balanced response, I replied, Thank you for getting my to articulate my opinion.  I often don’t know what I think until I write it.  And that is the topic of this post on what used to be Writing Wednesday, the possibility that I don’t fully know what I think until I write it down. (more…)

Based on a True Story

November 26, 2013

TSTI seem to remember reading somewhere that a writer is a person who lies for a living.  When I went searching for such a quote, I found a very entertaining post titled The Art of Telling Lies by Alex Keegan on Writers Write which argues that fiction writers are indeed liars, albeit sometimes in the interest of exposing a higher or more fundamental truth.   It begins with the following quote from science fiction writers, George Scithers & Darrel Schweitzer:

Fiction is lies. There is the Great Lie, the simple fact that the story is a story and not reportage. Fiction writers, therefore are liars — and they have to be good ones.

The thing about fiction, though, is that there is an implied contract with the reader … this is fiction, believe what you want.   If, on the other hand, the book in hand (or these days, in Kindle) is non-fiction, the reader is entitled to expect to read the truth … or at least the author’s perception of it.    Then again, 19th century English historian Thomas Macaulay has said:

The object is not truth but persuasion

In these days of journalistic reporting, that is probably more true than ever.  There is, however, a middle ground where the truth is even fuzzier.  In the world of the film and television, the world of Based on a True Story, there is no contract. (more…)